Identity Crisis

It was about ten months ago that the possibility occurred to me. I was resistant, of course, because I clearly had already found my thing. I was in the enjoyable part of the school year: second half, shortest month, we have random days off and snow days. Spring break is close enough you can look forward to it, and Christmas break isn’t too far gone to not still feel the comfort. 

It was within this safe timeframe that an inexplicably chaotic thought occurred to me:
I could change careers.

Not schools. Not curriculum. Not subjects, grades, or batches of students. LIFE TRAJECTORY. Careers. 

What’s up with me and my destructive thinking?

I brushed it aside. But only for a moment. Because…it made sense. 

a hand grasping the edge of a wet, green leaf

At the risk of oversimplification, my thought pattern was (basically) this:

  1. Man, I love teaching. Like I really love teaching. 
  2. And I love teaching because it is, after God, my highest priority. And by it I mean them, the teenagers I spend all day with. 
  3. I really only love teaching so much because I can and do give it my all. My day is wake up, worship, teaching, gym, bed. Rinse and repeat. And that’s fine! Family is far away and so is (at the time) the fiancee. Student focus forever!
  4. I can only really do teaching this way. When I give it less time, I can’t do all the custom-made things that I feel the need to do. And when I give it the time I want to, I have no emotional nor social energy after 4 PM (ask my personal trainer). 
  5. Other people can have wonderful families and be fantastic teachers simultaneously. I’m…not one of them. Due to…introversion? Being an HSP? Explanation doesn’t really matter. It’s just true. 
  6. I could just teach until I have kids and then quit. But man. I love having a thing that’s just mine. Outside of my family. In addition to my family. It makes me better. 
  7. Man. So I need to find something that challenges my mind, stretches my ability to understand, demands problem solving…but that doesn’t sap me dry like (my wonderful and amazing and I-love-them) teenagers do. 
  8. Oh no. In order to have the family that I want, I need to switch careers. 

Even as I enjoyed the waning weeks with my favorite humans, I realized that a different career was the path before me. And it terrified me.

It wasn’t so much the instability (WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I DOING THEN). It wasn’t the lack of a clear paycheck. It wasn’t the limitless possibilities, what people would think of me, and it wasn’t even the learning curve. It was…the loss of myself. 

Who am I, if not a teacher?

I’d introduced myself as a teacher for seven years. SEVEN. That’s a lot for someone barely a quarter of a century old. Being a high school English teacher was my tagline, my context, my way of scaring people of making grammatical errors just by introducing myself. If I wasn’t hand carving curriculum for the brightest and the struggling, giving up my free periods to talk about that boy  again, or counting off my favorite people on a field trip bus…then who in the world was I? 

Who am I, if not a teacher?

I hadn’t realized how deeply enmeshed my identity was with my career until I tried to extricate myself. It surprised me. I know the Bible! I’m God’s daughter, so who cares how I make money? Well, I do apparently. 

And even now. Ten months later, a continent away from that school, a ring on my finger, a new home with my favorite man, I still wonder….did I make the right decision to change careers? I know the answer. Only emotions are asking; the logic already knows. 

Yes. I’m making and have made the right decision. It’s terrifying and unclear, but it makes sense in the long-run. The time to leave isn’t necessarily when we’re burnt out and hating our suffering. Sometimes it’s best—we’re called, even—to leave the good for the better, albeit it sometimes leads through a path of self-doubt. 

I’ve journaled about this transition ad nauseam. I’ve written out my reasons clearly and with conviction. But I still miss my kids. I have not yet fully immersed myself into my new career (I’m still learning it), so of course it’s not the same. Transition is the single most difficult aspect of life for me.

I’m still Callie without being employed as a high school English teacher. And I can still be a teacher. And a preacher. And a lover of mentorship and encouragement to young people. I haven’t lost my gifts. I’ve only changed how they’re labeled. 

So, hi, I’m Callie. And I’m still figuring out my new tagline. 

(PS: fun fact. I was reading this aloud to my husband when I got to the “I’m making and have made” part and I dissolved into incoherent sobs. Clearly still an emotional topic for me. But I still agree with what I wrote. It takes time.)